I was a youth group leader in the days when teen girls used “like” in every sentence. Like, I loved being a youth group leader because it was, like, so much fun to hang out with kids. Like, it was such a blessing to, like, see how God worked in their lives.
It was annoying, but a little bit funny. They had another verbal habit that was not even a little bit funny. They said “oh my God” a lot too. I tried to point it out gently by responding, “I hope that was a prayer.” But, even though they didn’t recognize it, they were swearing, not praying.
The third commandment is to not take God’s name in vain. That means don’t swear, right? Yes, but this passage has given me a deeper understanding of it.
It means don’t dishonor God’s name.
God’s people dishonored His name by their actions, not by their words. They brought defiled offerings to the altar; they turned up their noses at His commands because they were hard and they cheated Him by saying they would do one thing and then doing another.
I don’t swear. I cringe when I read or hear OMG and I even ask my secular college students not to say “Jesus.”
But I’m afraid I’ve still been guilty of dishonoring God’s name by my actions.
When God has asked me to do something that’s hard for me, I haven’t always done it. Sometimes I say it’s too hard. Sometimes I put it off until it’s too late. Because of that, I dishonor His name. But when I do something for Him that’s hard, I’m offering a pure sacrifice. Avoiding it or doing it halfway is bringing a defiled sacrifice before Him.
I bear His name so the things I do are in His name. What I do either honors or dishonors Him. I want to honor Him. I want to be as careful about not taking His name in vain by my actions as I am about not swearing.